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Through the Safety Net: Stories
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Through the Safety Net: Stories

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  386 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Baxter dives into the undercurrents of middle-class American life in these eleven arresting, often mesmerizing stories. Whether they know it or not, Baxter's characters are floating above an abyss of unruly desire, inexplicable dread, unforeseen tragedy, and sudden moments of grace.

A drunken graduate student hurtles cheerfully through a snowstorm to rescue a fiancee who no
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 29th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1985)
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May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, short-story
Through the Safety Net: Stories by Charles Baxter is one of his most brilliant short story collections. People who have read my other reviews are probably tired of my raving about Baxter's craftsmanship, warmth, and focus so I will try to restrain myself as well as keep my comparisons to Chekhov to a minimum.

But if you read only one book by Baxter, I suggest this be the one.

And I don't mind if you hold me responsible if you can't stop after finishing it!
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lit types
this is my favorite collections of short-stories. i don't know why i love it so much. his characters are well developed and you feel as though you have a novel-length relationship with them even if it is a short. he's kinda a cult classic too, with the Saul and Patsy stuff. and i like that about him. i like it that he draws in weird fanatics.
Paul Thomas
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Very well written book of short stories about relationships and the human condition. Not sure that the title was well chosen, these aren't stories about the forgotten per se, but definitely snapshots of everyday relationships.

My favorite, "Saul and Patsy Getting Comfortable in Michigan", which Baxter later turns into a full novel, is about a couple who ends up in mid Michigan (Saginaw), where the husband teaches high school and Patsy works part time at Rexall. They had hoped to be in Boston or C
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Good collection of stories at their best when they're immediate and when characters are interacting. At their weakest, slowest, when at a distance.

Highlights: a pushy, jilted ex hounds a woman in "Stained Glass"; "Winter Journey" is perhaps the best drunk-driving story I've ever read and an altogether great read; "Saul and Patsy Are Getting Comfortable in Michigan" follows a young couple who take up life in rural Michigan (Saul's voice is great); a couple deals with a lost child in "Surprised By
Aug 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
For some reason I have the feeling that I should not like Charles Baxter, perhaps because I find his writing so likeable, and I have the ridiculous notion that I should have to work harder to like someone's writing, or perhaps it's because I have been influenced by other's reviews of his work, and I want to be irritated by it, but I am not, I actually really enjoy what of his I have read so far (except The Soul Thief.)
Yes, it's true that he often uses ridiculous and unbelievable names for his ch
Oct 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
For the most part, a great collection about for the most part, sad, married people. My favorites are "Surprised by Joy" and "The Eleventh Floor." There's something I really love about the last paragraph of "Surprised by Joy":

"She looked at him. In the midst of the sunlight he was hugging his darkness. She stepped down the zigzag path to the car leaving him there, but he followed her. Once they were both in the car, the dog inside the ranch house began its frantic barking, but it stopped after a
Aug 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is Baxter's second book, full of tender and elliptical and bizarre moments and some extremely funny ones. It's obviously an early work ("Stained Glass," which starts out very amusing, ends on a note that I think was overly cynical; "Media Event" is kind of Delillo-esque, which isn't where Baxter's strengths lie), but some of the stories suggest the talent that was fulfilled in his later collections and novels. "Gryphon" and "Talk Show," both about children, are both amusing and memorable, a ...more
Sep 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Baxter's stories are absolutely jammed with imagination. They're just so bizarre that they're enthralling. I do love the way he handles child characters in "Talk Show" and "Gryphon." I love how "Talk Show" centers around Louie's toys as the death of his grandmother unfolds in the adults around him. It is a wonderful way to have a child report this. "Gryphon" is particularly interesting as well. I like how Baxter uses the "I later learned" to shift perspective briefly to be able to bring in eleme ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
As a big fan of the two novels I've read by Charles Baxter, I was excited to read his short stories, and they did not disappoint me. Though less plot driven than his longer fiction, these tidy ruminations on Midwestern life rang very true to this MIchigan man. His range of narrators is impressive, as he deftly shifts from a confused little boy dealing with his grandmother's seat to a fame-obsessed geek, just to name two. And the brief title story is brilliant, evoking the mood and paranoia of ou ...more
Jul 15, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked the stories in the beginning and then for whatever reason they were not as interesting so I put this book aside. The were fine stories but they didn't make me thing and perhaps were a bit expected. Well I picked the book up again to finish and I enjoyed the last few stories more than I thought I would. I liked the last story which was a ode to Sunday. Overall it was a nice read but did not standout. Perhaps I need to reread the stories since so many loved this book ....
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
At the risk of gushing, Charles Baxter is one of the greatest short story writers in America. Everything about these slight-at-first-glance stories is close to perfect: language, pacing, even the order in which the stories appear.

I'm deeply grateful for Baxter, and will be buying this collection... they're utterly re-readable stories. I hope everyone who loves to read will read this collection.
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
They're all unique short stories yet all have Baxter's distinct voice. The last one is my favorite. It's metafictional (ooh a multisyllabic word!) I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have Charles Baxter write about me. If he asked me for permission to be a character in a story, I'd give it to him. Even though he'd have to write about the ugly stuff, I'd trust him to get the good stuff too. He'd be accurate. I sound like I'm in love with him.
Richard Jespers
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great but often quiet stories. The last one is narrated by a man in a park who is watching everyone there. He says, “There is no story here,” but that’s the story: the bucolic but eventful afternoon in the park.
Terri Jacobson
Mar 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I found this collection of short stories to be rather uneven. Some I liked greatly, others not so much. Baxter writes about middle-class characters who face some crisis in their lives. The writing is good and the character development is also pretty good. I do think this is a book worth reading.
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm always looking for new short stories to like, and I don't even know why I picked this up, but I loved it. Baxter is like the 80s version of Cheever. Great stories, excellent writing. Gave me a lot to think about while delighting me with imagery.
Nov 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
"Stained Glass", "Saul and Patsy...", "The Eleventh Floor", "Gryphon", and the title story were all really strong pieces that held humor and discomfort side by side. Talk show is quite good for those interested in writing children in stories.
Amanda Avery
Jan 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
"Winter Journey" was a stand-out. Recounts a sad night of calm and detached inebriation and divinely assisted car ride to collect an estranged significant other. Hyper-realistic AND uncanny, with cut-a-way, on the verge of something, gong-like endings.
Feb 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
great modern day short story teller.
Sandra Nicholls
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book -- a must for short story lovers.
Oct 15, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: hated
Charles Baxter, I don't believe you or your characters. You grate on me. Oh how you grate.
Tim Lepczyk
Nov 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
Just remember some really good stories in this collection.
Christie Howland
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Baxter is a genius and these stories are proof of that.
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
magical, authentic
Feb 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: high-caliber
Having spent the majority of my life in Michigan, I couldn't help but love these stories, especially as they characterize the vanishing slow style of the Midwest.
Feb 21, 2010 added it
Through the Safety Net : stories (Vintage Contemporaries) by Charles Baxter (1998)
Elizabeth Urello
Oct 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Baxter is really hit-or-miss for me.
Feb 20, 2008 rated it liked it
A good collection of short stories. A good breadth of authors in terms of style; some are far more engaging than others.
Taylor Grieshober
rated it it was amazing
Dec 28, 2014
rated it liked it
Mar 31, 2013
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Aug 04, 2008
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Charles Baxter was born in Minneapolis and graduated from Macalester College, in Saint Paul. After completing graduate work in English at the State University of New York at Buffalo, he taught for several years at Wayne State University in Detroit. In 1989, he moved to the Department of English at the University of Michigan--Ann Arbor and its MFA program. He now teaches at the University of Minnes ...more
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